GRAMMY Living History Moments With Clive Davis

Legendary industry executive discusses mentoring, hit songs, "American Idol" and GRAMMY wins
  • Photo: Kevin Mazur/
    Clive Davis
November 04, 2010 -- 2:07 pm PDT

Legendary music industry executive Clive Davis is featured in the debut installment of GRAMMY Living History Moments, a new series showcasing excerpts from the GRAMMY Foundation's Living Histories archive. Davis discusses topics such as mentoring, "American Idol," working with Santana on his GRAMMY-winning Album Of The Year Supernatural, hit songs, and finding the song "Mandy" for GRAMMY-winning artist Barry Manilow.

"[It's] very difficult to describe," said Davis regarding the ingredients of a hit song. "'s a great melody that is coupled with an impactful lyric. So when you think of [Carole King's] 'You've Got A Friend,' when you think of [Simon & Garfunkel's] 'Bridge Over Troubled Water,' — two songs that come to mind as being quintessential great, great songs — you're thinking of a melody that you can sing in a second and you're thinking of a lyric that's affecting you."

As a producer and music industry executive, Davis' career spans more than four decades, including stints as president of Columbia Records, founder of Arista Records, founder of J Records, chairman/CEO of RCA Music Group, and chairman/CEO of BMG North America. Davis has played a major role in shaping the successful careers of many artists, including GRAMMY winners Kelly Clarkson, Harry Connick Jr., Whitney Houston, Alicia Keys, Leona Lewis, and Manilow. A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, he is currently chief creative officer of Sony Music Entertainment Worldwide. Davis has won four GRAMMY Awards, including his most recent win for Best R&B Album for Jennifer Hudson's self-titled release in 2008.

The GRAMMY Foundation's Living Histories program preserves on videotape the life stories of key recording industry professionals and visionaries who helped create the history of recorded sound. This footage is utilized by the GRAMMY Foundation and its partner organizations to develop educational video programs that tell the unique stories of our musical history through the unfiltered voices of its makers. To date, the Foundation has completed more than 200 interviews with artists, producers, executives and technology pioneers. 

GRAMMY Living History Moments: Gladys Knight

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